‘I Lost My Best Friend.’ Wife of Man Killed in Tesla Autopilot Crash Speaks Out

April 12, 2018, 3:23 PM UTC

The wife of the victim killed in a Tesla autopilot crash last month has spoken out for the first time after the incident, which has prompted the family to sue the automaker for wrongful death.

“I just want this tragedy not to happen again to another family,” Sevonne Huang told ABC affiliate KGO of her husband, Walter Huang, who died after his Autopilot-enabled Model X crashed into a barrier in Mountainview, Calif., on March 23. “I’ve not just lost my husband, I lost my best friend.

“I just try not to cry in front of my children because they feel afraid,” Sevonne added.

Sevonne told the outlet that she immediately realized her husband was involved in the crash not only because of his car, but because he had previously complained about his Tesla’s tendency to steer toward the barrier while on autopilot.

Walter’s brother, Will Huang, told KGO that Walter had tried to get a Tesla dealership to correct the autopilot issue, but mechanics had trouble fixing the problem.

In a statement, Tesla said that Walter’s car tried to give him both visual and audible warnings urging him to put his hands on the wheel, but no hands were detected for six seconds prior to the accident. But Will does not believe that description of the events actually happened.

“He’s not the type who would not have his hands on the steering wheel, he’s always been [a] really careful driver,” he said.

Regardless, Tesla says it is not responsible for preventing all crashes from occurring — just reducing the likelihood of them happening.

“In the US, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers,” the automaker said in a March 30 statement. “For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware. If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

“Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur,” the statement continued. “It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists.”